Female Link Jam Sets Out to Rethink Zelda Games

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

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Female Link Jam | oprainfall

Let’s be real here: How many people have ever joked about how effeminate Link is, or ever mistaken him for a woman, or ever mixed him up with Princess Zelda? The numbers are probably astronomical. It’s little wonder, then, that some fans have really rolled with the idea: What if Link was a woman?

Discounting the jokes, the concept of a female Link isn’t entirely foreign to the series’ creators. The Zelda fanbase erupted with excitement and controversy when the idea surfaced that the Link featured in E3 2014’s glorious trailer for the Wii U’s Legend of Zelda game might be female. While Nintendo replied to the rampant guessing by saying that this Link was male, Zelda director Eiji Aonuma noted that Link wasn’t truly male or female, or even really a character; rather, he was simply an avatar for the player, no matter who that might be. Further adding fuel to the fire was a particular image from a Hyrule Warriors artbook featuring a distinctly familiar — and distinctly female — design:

Female Link Jam | "Linkle"

The character, named Linkle, was meant to be a younger sister of sorts to Link in Hyrule Warriors, but never made it into the actual game. Her resemblance to Link has been the source of much wonder and speculation.

Fast forward to this week: Fans are putting together a project called the “Female Link Jam.” Set to run from midnight on April 1 to midnight on May 1, the goal of the Female Link Jam is for fans to come together and create their own Zelda-style games featuring female iterations of the Hero of Hyrule. Entries are welcome from experienced developers to newbies with no prior experience, with the winner being promised a slick framed art piece featuring a female Link. The only requirements for entries are that the player character be a woman named Link, and that the game take place in the Zelda universe. Entries will be judged on their art, music, story and overall experience (or, as worded on the official site, “How sweet is the game?”).

The official website for the Female Link Jam can be found here. Questions about the jam can be directed to the main organizer’s Twitter account, here.

About Ben Hafen

Ben is a 20-year-old college student who joined the Operation Rainfall crew in 2015. Amongst his hobbies are writing stories, singing, raging against post-game bosses in Etrian Odyssey Untold, and biking everywhere in the hopes of hatching a shiny Carbink.

  • Jahu

    I wanted to include this in the article, but couldn’t find a good way to work it in: PBS Game/Show ran a video on the issue of making a female Link a week ago. Definitely worth a watch.

    • Keichi Morisato

      because at this point Link is an established character, he has an iconic look, a look almost as iconic as Mario or Mickey Mouse. if they want to have a female character playable in a Zelda game, make it a spin off title, just not Link.

    • Jahu

      I know this isn’t quite the same thing, but the general design and aesthetic of Wind Waker went against the “iconic look” for the Zelda franchise of the time. Now it’s considered one of the best titles in the series, even though it caused a lot of backdraft when it was revealed.

    • Keichi Morisato

      there has never been an iconic look for the series though, at least where the art style in concerned, people just expected it to look realistic like OoT, because hur dur realism maturity hur dur. Nintendo has always changed the art style for the games as needed.

    • James Best

      So, it’s okay for them to change the art direction of the series, and yet, somehow, the gender of a generally blank-slate character is sacred and cannot be changed?

    • Keichi Morisato

      Link hasn’t been a blank slate character in a very very long time, he is now simply a silent protagonist more akin to the Persona 3/4 MCs, they clearly show various emotions, and clearly have their own personalities, even if you the player never “hears” his voice. and yes, every game has used a different art style depending on what they were doing with the game itself. at this point it would be like changing Mario this late in the game, he too is simply a “blank slate” as you put it like Link is, but we’re not going to get a Black or Hispanic Mario anytime soon right? i’d rather Nintendo make an original adventure starring Zelda in some capacity, which would drastically change the gameplay, rather than shoehorn a token female character in a bid to be more PC.

    • James Best

      Changing Mario wouldn’t work very well because he’s a set character. The Mario we have today is the same Mario we’ve had since the 80s. Meanwhile, we’ve had several different Links over the years. Adult Link, Child Link, Toon Link, Twilight Princess Link, Train Conducter Link, or Hyrule Warriors Link. There’s no reason why we can’t have a female Link. It wouldn’t change very much at all, in the grand scheme of things. After all, even when Link does have a personality, there’s very little and it’s very vague, except for Toon Link, and nothing that would inherently place him on either end of the male/female spectrum.

    • Chris Goodman

      “Each possessing the Spirit of the HERO.”
      hmmmmm I wonder whats the difference between Hero and Heroine.

    • Jahu

      “Hero” is also a gender-neutral term for a large, mixed group of people, just like how actors and actresses all fall under the catch-all “actor.”

  • Iyamtebist

    in b4 “what if Zelda was a girl?”

    In terms of my actual thoughts, I don’t dislike the idea, it is just that i hope there is more done with it other than for the sake of making Link a girl. Granted it doesn’t even need to be much, she could just be handled similar to the female protagonist from Persona 3 portable. Also I really hope this is just done out of enjoyment for the series rather than some type of feminist agenda that seems to be the new trend these days. Otherwise I could be down with this.

    • Jahu

      “Feminist agenda?” You mean giving women more due representation? 😛

    • Axle_Magnum

      If it’s making Link a girl solely for the sake of him being female, then yes, it’s a feminist or, what I’d prefer to call it, SJW agenda. A character doesn’t have to be male or female to make a good game. It only matters if the character is well-written. It just so happens that it seems like it’s easier to write male characters currently.
      Also just gonna leave this picture here.

    • Iyamtebist

      I mean shoehorning female characters into a game as a gimmick for no other reason than because “more female characters!” And yes it is an agenda because gamers should care more about the quality of the game overall rather than people who want to have more female representation because they are told there isn’t and they think they are pushing the industry forward by requesting them, when in reality they are just asking in developers to shoehorn female more female characters in. For the most part, most games have female representation. People can debate whether there is a problem with said representation (which there really isn’t), but I would seriously question if gamers who say that there isn’t enough female representation even pay attention to the games they play at all or just take whatever is said the most often at face value.

      Regardless, as i said before, most gamers wouldn’t really mind whether a game has a female protagonist or not as long as the game is good (A lot of my personal favorite games either have a female protagonist or a large female cast for instance). However, it becomes a problem when representation of a specific race, gender, or sexuality becomes more of a focus than the game’s overall quality, and is used as a selling point; and people should not be trying to force politics into games where they aren’t relevant.

      In short, i don’t mind if Link is female in the next Zelda game, i just prefer that this isn’t put there only as a selling point and instead actually adds to the overall quality of the game.

    • Alexis Goitia

      Let me ask you something: Say two politicians are going to be discussing abortion, say one is called Obama and the other Palin, who do you think will be speaking in the best interest of women?
      “Representation”, at least in the way you put it, is total bullshit, just because someone that shares some basic trait with you is in a position of relevance it doesn’t mean they’re going to speak in your best interest. Most game “journalists” share my gender, that doesn’t automatically mean they “represent” me in any way.
      Would you say Samus is as good female “representation” in Other M as in Prime simply because both portrayals are female?

  • Raiken

    Does the gender of Link actualy matter? No really, apart from Skyward sword, changing his gender would change little.

    • Jahu

      You’re right from a gameplay perspective–Aonuma says as much himself. The issue is more about female representation in gaming.

  • fan

    Please go away

    • Jahu

      Make me. >:{D

    • fan

      I couldn’t care less about what you do. All you do is talk bs.

    • Jahu

      I’m sorry you feel that way. We may have different opinions on this topic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be respectful to each other and enjoy discussing our points of view. c:

  • fan



    Pick as many as you’d like. Make as many awesome, creative, different games as you want. I would love to play a game starring any one of these characters.

  • Jack Frazee

    Be it female Link descendant, or a swap in the roles of Zelda and Link, I would love to play as a female lead in the Zelda universe.

  • An Tran

    Speaking of Linkle, why not make her DLC? I don’t give a damn about buying any of the other DLCs, but a brand new character would be nice.

    • Jahu

      I actually thought of that while writing this article! I mean, we got Tingle, so why not a previously-scrapped character?

    • SecretX

      Who said they aren’t?

  • Alexis Goitia

    Let’s propose to make Samus or Bayonetta male and wait for the feminist complaints to start rolling in.
    I don’t support agenda driven causes, this is typical SJW stuff, they don’t want to make an effort to make their own character/universe/game, they just want to usurp a popular one to make a political statement, it’s pointless tampering of legacy characters driven by bitterness, laziness and ignorance.
    Marvel already let them get away with it, can we stop now?

    • Jahu

      I’ve never played Bayonetta, but from what I know, Bayonetta’s gender is pretty integral to her game.

    • Alexis Goitia

      Don’t you think there’s something inherently wrong with trying to voice an opinion just after admitting you’re rather ignorant of the subject matter? Don’t you think that by being so smug you are actually setting yourself up to fall pretty hard on your face?
      There’s literally no point in either Bayonetta game in which her gender is important, sure it is acknowledged, but that doesn’t mean the gameplay somehow depends on it, it’s not like the lore of the series hasn’t shown that men are just as capable fighters (The Lumen Sage is pretty much on par with Bayonetta, as is Loki), gameplay-wise Bayonetta plays pretty much like Dante from DMC or the Wonderful Ones from TW101 do, it’s not like she goes around bashing people with her tits.
      Likewise, the only story-related aspect in which her gender is ever needed is Luka’s crush on her, which can be fixed by simply turning Luka into a girl, conflating his character with Jeanne, making him gay or simply removing the subplot since it really has no relevance other than filling up the rather slim plot and setting up a couple of jokes. In fact, this aspect of the story is so moot that Bayonetta 2 drops it almost entirely.
      But look at you Mr. Female Representation, you didn’t hesitate to jump right at my neck and tell me why it would be wrong to genderswap Bayonetta despite admitting to having near to no knowledge on how the game works, yet you’re here advocating to genderswap Link even though, much like with Bayonetta, the change would make little to no difference in the game; double standards much?

    • Jahu

      It was never my intention to be smug about this. I apologize for coming across that way. As I said and you proved, I really don’t know much about Bayonetta, so thanks for clearing that up for me.

  • blazeblast4

    First, why wasn’t Linkle added as DLC? Second, Nintendo is currently too safe with their main franchises (besides multiple attempts at mass genocide in Pokemon, including one that happened as part of the lore) to try a “controversial” change like that (they are a Japanese company after all, where the Last Guardian didn’t have a female lead because programming a camera to not give panty shots of a kid was too hard). Third, is it just me, or is Linkle the Elf from Dragon’s Crown?

  • Streaky MacIntosh

    “Linkle”? Jesus Christ Nintendo, you’re not even fucking trying.